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SC refuses to entertain PIL seeking 3-year law course instead of five

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New Delhi: Observing that the legal profession needed “mature people”, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a PIL seeking directions to the Centre and the Bar Council of India to set up an expert committee for exploring the feasibility of introducing a three-year LLB course after class 12 instead of the existing five-year course.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice JB Pardiwala said the five-year LLB (Bachelor of Law) course is “working fine” and there was no need to tinker with it.

“Why have a three-year course at all? They can start practice (of law) after high school only!… According to me, even 5 years is too less,” the CJI said.

“We need mature people coming into the profession. This 5-year course has been very beneficial,” the bench said while permitting the PIL to be withdrawn.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh appeared for lawyer-petitioner Ashwini Updhyay.

The senior advocate said even in the United Kingdom, the law course is for three years and the present five-year LLB course here is a “disincentive for the poor, especially girls”.

The CJI disagreed with his submissions and said 70 per cent women have entered district judiciary this time and now more girls are taking up law.

Singh sought the court’s permission to withdraw the PIL with liberty to make a representation to the BCI for introducing such a course. The bench disallowed his request to approach the BCI and permitted only the withdrawal of the PIL.

The PIL was filed through lawyer Ashwani Dubey.

At present, students can pursue a five-year integrated law course after class 12 for which they need to clear the Common Law Admission Test (CLAT) adopted by the premier National Law Universities (NLUs). Students can also pursue a three-year LLB course after graduating in any discipline.

The plea said it was “seeking direction to the Centre and Bar Council of India to form an expert committee to ascertain the feasibility of starting a three-year Bachelor of Law course after class 12 like Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) courses”.

It claimed that the “prolonged period” of five years for the integrated course was “arbitrary and irrational” as it was not proportional to the subject and put an excessive financial burden on students.

“There are numerous examples of prodigies not being encumbered by a rigid system which focuses more on being the jack of all rather than being the master of one,” the plea claimed, citing the example of former law minister Ram Jethmalani, who started his law firm when he was just 17.

“Was there any five-year LLB course to bar his progress and obscure his vision? There was none. The eminent jurist and former attorney general late Fali Nariman completed law at the age of 21 years,” the plea said.


Press Trust of India

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